Environment

Hawaiian marine preserve hit by coral bleaching

Hawaiian marine preserve hit b...
Dr. Ku'ulei Rodgers conducting a coral bleaching survey
Dr. Ku'ulei Rodgers conducting a coral bleaching survey
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Bleached coral in Hanauma Bay
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Bleached coral in Hanauma Bay
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on the island of Oahu
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Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on the island of Oahu
Dr. Ku'ulei Rodgers conducting a coral bleaching survey
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Dr. Ku'ulei Rodgers conducting a coral bleaching survey
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For many people, particularly those living in the Northern Hemisphere, coral bleaching may seem like one of those things that's only happening in distant lands that they'll never visit. The truth is, however, that's no longer the case. A recent study has recorded significant coral bleaching in what is likely Hawaii's most popular snorkelling area, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on the island of Oahu.

Led by Dr. Paul Jokiel (who passed away last April), a team from the Coral Reef Ecology Lab at the Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology conducted surveys of the state-protected area from 2014 to 2016. Over that time, they observed that 47 percent of the flat reef corals bleached overall, and 9.8 percent of the corals died.

The scientists state that rising ocean temperatures caused by global warming are the culprit. This finding is supported by the fact that the bleaching is worse in parts of the bay where the water is able to pool and get warm, while it's less pronounced in areas where fresh, cooler water from the ocean is able to surge in and out.

Bleached coral in Hanauma Bay
Bleached coral in Hanauma Bay

Coral bleaching occurs when environmental factors cause corals to expel the algae that lives within their tissue. This causes the corals to starve and subsequently die. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the situation in Oahu is going to improve anytime soon.

"Warmer seawater temperatures are again predicted for the Hawaiian Islands in 2017 with the grave possibility of more coral bleaching and mortality", says Dr. Keisha Bahr.

Source: PeerJ

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4 comments
DFrancis
Is warmer water the sole (or main) cause of coral bleaching, or could micro- and nano-sized plastic debris also be factors?
Bob
I suspect that the increased waste water from an increasing population is the major factor. While everyone goes on and on about global warming, most of the countries of the world dump their raw sewage and industrial waste into the ocean. Even in the U.S. the amount of farm chemicals flowing into the ocean has increased tremendously. Global warming is the least of our worries.
Signguy
Yeah...how about Fukishima? Ya think constant radiated water into the oceans might do something?
Darus Zehrbach
It seems that each time I read about coral bleaching, there is in the article a note like in this one that the area bleached is/was one of the most popular, oft visited by divers. Simultaneously, In these pages of NewAtlas, I have seen that it has been discovered that sun tan lotion uses chemicals that are hyper toxic, death in a tube, even in extremely low concentrations to coral. Perhaps the best way to preserve the coral reef is to get away from it and put a ban on sun tan goo. When the national parks became trodden to death from the hordes of hikers, limits on visitors where imposed. Looks like a diver limits and a suntan lotion ban are in order